Friday, July 13, 2012

Self-Reflection: The Peculiar Friendship

"I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn't imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn't always successful." -Frank Ocean (from his "coming out" - or whatever you want to call it - letter)

When I read Frank's "coming out" note on his Tumblr last week, I understood that I was reading a huge revelation. But bigger than that, the story that he was telling was way more moving and it didn't matter what gender he was talking about about. But the above line has stuck with me since I read it last week.  Hell, I've memorized it. It also came at the most interesting time.

The same week I had a chance to spend some time with my "first."  I've mentioned him in the past so no need to go into much detail (though this sums it up quite nicely).  We're still very cool and keep in semi-frequent contact but don't get to see each other often.  We spoke the day before the 4th and we made plans to see each other and catch up.  The whole "catching up" thing didn't work out exactly as planned but we did get to hang out for a couple of minutes and it gave me a chance to get in his business (yeah, we're still that cool).

But like many who see an old flame or whatever he/she may be to you, I did a little reflection as I got home. It wasn't the "I wonder what could have happened if" kind of reflection; it was actually a self-reflection. I realized when I looked in his eyes, I could literally see the 18 year old freshman who knew nothing about boys. The freshman who knew nothing about "game."  I laughed to myself when I recalled how I asked, "Now what," because I knew he wasn't my boyfriend but I didn't know what it meant to have sex with someone who was just a friend.  I shook my head at how crystal clear things were after that first time when I realized, "Shit, I'm not the only one, huh?"

As I recall, I kept up a facade. I'd expressed my little hurt but for the sake of me keeping him around, primarily because I didn't know how to say " I can't and won't deal with this," I held on to the friendship. By a thread. For years.  We'd finally gotten to what I thought was a good place until one straw broke the camel's back and I saw the "friendship" for what it was. I'd had enough and told him so. That, too, last for a few years until he approached me on the humble and we grew the friendship again.  Today, I think we're okay but we only are because I don't feel the need to keep up that friendship with him if it isn't working for me (I can't speak for him).

I don't run up behind him checking on him and seeing what he's up to because I can imagine my life without him. I've had a life without him in it.  So I know Frank's story. I lived it to an extent. I actually went through parts of it again with someone else. It's got to be one of the worst feelings to deal with in terms of relationships but when you get through it?  Now that's some shit to sing about.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nas' "Bye Baby": Freedom of Expression Or Lame Sales Attempt?

A couple of days ago, I saw on the blogs that Nas had a new song called "Bye Baby." I knew before pressing play the song would be about his ex-wife, Kelis.  The best I could hope for was that he would just be expressing his feelings about where their marriage went wrong and how he could have done some things better (because, I mean, he can't speak for her) to maybe make the marriage work.  But, I was wrong. 

Sure, he starts out saying that his wedding day was so awesome and that they tried counseling but that couldn't force him to stay. Great. But in that same first verse he calls out Kelis' issues, according to him, by saying, "Reason you don't trust men, that's your daddy fault/he in the grave, let it go/he no longer livin/said you caught him cheatin' on mom with other women/ fuck that gotta do with us..."  He continues by saying he should have seen the demons when he saw her screaming "Hate You so Much," which was her first single.  The rest of the song goes on to describe the relationship - things that were publicized and some thing that weren't - with the third verse talking about how her lawyers told her what she'd be getting in the divorce proceedings as well as him defending the same relationship in front of people who spoke ill of them being together.  By the very end he was saying he'd get married again when he meets the "truest type."

I'm sorry, Nasir...what?! I'm trying to understand where it's cool to put your ex-wife and mother of your child on blast like this just because you feel the need to get some things off your chest. Sure, we've all heard a song or read a book where a person is expressing themselves about a past relationship and it's very compelling. But there's a way to do everything and this seems wrong. In an attempt to further his sales when the Life Is Good album comes out, he not only used the woman's wedding dress (he says she left it behind when she left him) to be controversial but he put things out about her that I don't recall knowing.  This is not cool.

Yes, there's the idea that it's freedom of speech and the forum that he has can be used in any way he sees fit.  I'm well aware of that as I'm using this space to voice my displeasure. But when the situation is more involved than her having just been a girlfriend, there's a moment where you would think that common sense takes over and you either approach it at a different, more neutral angle don't say anything at all.  Kelis has yet to say anything negative about him; just two weeks ago she address the 'wedding dress' album cover by saying, "My feelings about it are not really relevant, but you know at the end of the day Nas is an artist...I feel like especially for someone in hip-hop to kind of be genuine and honest, whatever the honesty is about, I think it’s awesome."  Is she perfect? Of course not. Does she share the blame for the demise of marriage? I'm sure she played a part.  But she seems to know that they have a kid together and to say anything obviously or subliminally negative about Nas serves no point.  Stakes are high once you've been married and had kids with a person.

Nas, you are back to looking as fine as you were in '94 but does that mean you have to still act like the kid you were then?  Don't let this rap shit get have you making a fool of yourself.